Review by lostkiwi

"Beatuiful worlds, difficult puzzles"

For those that aren't familiar with the Myst series, these are puzzle based games where you typically have a certain number of worlds to solve, where each world is 'usually' independent, and therefore these worlds can be done in any sequence. The worlds are always very imaginative and beautiful, and the worlds are usually designed around the puzzles, rather than the other way round. You very rarely meet other characters, there is no inventory system, and you cannot die.

Uru is similar, except rather that the static screens of the previous titles (and also Myst VI), you have the choice of a 1st or 3rd person view, and have the freedom to walk or run anywhere around the world wherever the boundaries permit. It is even more immersive than the previous games of the season, and generally works very well.

Graphics - 9
The graphics are stunning. Every world is very detailed and absolutely gorgeous. To put things in perspective, I am just as (if not more) impressed with the level of detail in Uru than I am in Half Life 2 or Doom 3. The worlds or Uru are quite simply beautiful. In one of the worlds it changed from sun shine to a thunder storm, and with a combination of the solid graphics and sound I could imagine actually being there and experiencing the rainfall, the sense of realism was really that strong.

Sound - 8
The sounds are as you expect. If you walk over a log, you hear a wooden sound. If you walk through water, it makes a splashing sound. The music suits the atmosphere very well. Furthermore at set locations in the game there are also Peter Gabriel tracks, good news I suppose if you like Peter Gabriel. Personally I'm impartial.

Gameplay - 7
First and foremost, many of the puzzles in this game a very difficult. I'm not an unintelligent person, in fact the last IQ tests I have undertaken have ranged my IQ within the mid 140's. And I'm very partial to logic puzzles, I absolutely love them. But there was not a chance I was going to complete this game without a walk through, which I had to frequently referrer to. That's not to say it's not possible to complete this game without assistance, but if you manage then I am very impressed, you will have managed what myself and many others could not achieve, give yourself a good pat on the back. Personally I like the type of puzzles where the clues are right in front of you, and it just takes some mental logic to piece them together. A good puzzle for me is one where if you work at it logically you can deduce a solution, however in desperate times trying every possible combination will also eventually find you the correct answer also. There are a few puzzles of this nature in Uru, however there are many more that are far more abstract, and require much greater leaps of logic. Also, a consequence of being in a totally 3D world, is that now there are puzzles that involve kicking something into a place. That's fine if it's of type 'kick a box onto a pressure plate', but when you spend 10 minutes trying to wedge an object of one size into an area of another, thing's get frustrating very rapidly. Also personally I believe that complicated jumping is not welcome in puzzle games either, it's not a test of logic its a test of your patience. Fortunately Uru does not over do areas of this nature. Finally there are times where it is too easy to miss hotspots, making the process of solving the puzzles much more difficult.

The game has a rather abrupt start also, which may throw a few players. You create and stylise your character, and then the game drops you in a desert. That's it, no introduction, no explanatory text, no cut scene giving you a any clues about where you are or how you got there. You simply start exploring, trying to piece together what it is that you need to do.

I do have a complaint about one of the worlds. As a general rule of thumb in the Myst series, you can solve each world completely independently of each other. However in Uru there is one world in particular that you cannot complete without completing something from another first (I'm doing my best to sound a little vague as not to give away any spoilers). This can lead to players such as myself wandering around aimlessly looking for something they've missed, when really they've done all that they can.

Other points of mention.
- There were a couple of bugs in the game, but nothing that will ruin the experience or (to the best of my knowledge) put an area in an unsolvable state.
- If you purchase Uru, you can download the second expansion of the web for free (you need to purchase the third expansion however) - That's right, 2 games for the price of one, what a bonus. I've only started the second expansion, so I'm not sure of it's quality as yet. They've packed the games very highly also, the second game is less than 200mbs when downloaded, but expands to about 1.5GB. The flip side of this however is that installing takes a while.
- The game runs smoothly, I played 1024x768 on high quality on a Dell Laptop, 2Ghz, 512mb ram and 64mb GeforeGo video card.

Graphics - 9
Sound - 8
Gameplay - 7

Final Score - 8

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/18/05

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